The singing superstar talks about latest album, My Life II, at The Pool at Harrah's in Atlantic City during a Nov. 26 appearance.
ATLANTIC CITY — When Mary J. Blige released her breakthrough album My Life in 1994, recording a sequel to the intensely personal collection of songs was never her goal or intention.
It was supposed to be a one-and-done project, and for 17 years and through seven more albums, that’s exactly what it was: a stand-alone, Grammy-nominated effort that put Blige on the charts and in the minds of a growing legion of worldwide fans.
“I never wanted to do another My Life album,” Blige says.
Last year, however, Blige took a step back, looked at her life and the world surrounding it, and decided it was time to revisit My Life with a fresh perspective.
And so My Life II: The Journey Continues (Act 1) was born. The follow-up album that was never supposed to happen was released Nov. 21, and Blige offered a simple explanation as to why she looked at her past to help her develop the music of the future.
She discovered there was a common thread — a consistency — that bridged the first My Life album to the follow-up.
“[In] the first My Life album, there was a lot going on in our lives and it wasn’t all positive,” Blige tells Atlantic City Weekly during a chat prior to an album launch party at The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort on Saturday, Nov. 26.
“So there has been a lot of growth and evolution since then. The beautiful thing about now is that we can look back at that album and look at how strong we are and how much we’ve conquered and come through, and that’s the reason for [My Life II] now.”
Although songs on the original album focused more on Blige’s early life and personal struggles with clinical depression, drug and alcohol abuse and an abusive relationship, the new album speaks to problems affecting many people.
The hip-hop scented collection of R&B songs, performed by Blige and a veritable who’s who of modern music including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Timbaland and Alicia Keys, is about the “struggle to get to the next level,” she says.
“[It’s about] the breakthrough and then the trial, so now at a time like this, when there’s recession and war, people need that healing and that love and that understanding from a record,” she says. “Music used to make people feel great, and that’s why now, because it’s time.”
Although the music is personal, Blige admits it connects with her fans because many of them have been through the same trials and tests she endured as a child and as an emerging artist.
The album “is mostly for my fans and I and anyone who wants to be involved,” she says.
Critics have already heaped praise on My Life II, and more than one has suggested the new album offers competition for the original as to which is the better product. Blige bristled at the thought the new album is competing with the old one. She made it clear that the first album was — and always will be — a very special project.
“It was never meant to be a competition,” she says firmly. “It was only meant to be an extension of the first My Life album, because there is no competition for the first My Life album.”
A classic video:
Blige, 40, is a four-time Grammy Award-winner who came from a broken home in New York. Her father was a jazz musician who divorced Blige’s mother and then abandoned Blige and her sister.
Alicia Keys talks ‘Girl on Fire,’ motherhood and more in exclusive interview with AC Weekly prior to Revel show April 13.
The 40-year-old multi-Grammy Award winner sang her 1994 album My Life in its entirety, including the songs "I'm Going Down," "Be Happy," "Mary Jane (All Night Long)" and "You Bring Me Joy."
In a year that saw the return of widespread protests around the world, the power and potential of grass-roots movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, more and more bad economic news and forecasts, the music industry seemed to bounce back with a bunch of solid releases, including new albums by Kanye West and Jay-Z, Adele, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and others, as 'indie' labels such as Sub Pop, Yep Roc, and ANTI-, emerged as the leaders of a new renaissance in the music biz. Meanwhile, reissues, by specialty labels like Legacy, were among the most exciting "new" music of 2011. Atlantic City Weekly runs an Album of the Week column on the Coasting page each week, and the editors have put together a list of the best 2011 albums of the bunch, as well as several re-issues, and albums we didn't get a chance to write about yet for a total of 50 albums that you may or may not have heard yet. 2011 Albums of the Year (in no particular order. Click on links to see album review; when you get to page, scroll down to the Album of the Week column). Rock on. Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The...
Last week, I ended a committed relationship that had lasted for eight years, almost nine, really. We really loved one another — or so I thought — and I always believed we were in it to win it. You know, forever and ever, till death do us part, that kind of stuff.
It had been quiet in regards to casino headliner updates, but there have been a few splashy additions recently. Caesars announced that Mary J. Blige is performing at the Circus Maximus Dec. 29-30. Blige will be performing her classic album 'My Life' in its entirety on both dates.
This Saturday night, Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, Capitol Records recording artist J. Holiday will be headlining at the Atlantic City House of Blues. But get there early because Shadina, the singer open...
Last weekend was one of the busiest weekends of the year so far in Atlantic City. Especially if you're a fan of urban music, as two of the genre's top performers, Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z, were live i...
Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige -- perhaps the biggest respective male and female names in hip-hop and R&B music, with over 70 million combined albums sold worldwide and 12 Grammy wins between them -- have joined forces for the Heart of the City Tour, which stops Saturday at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, sponsored by Trump Entertainment Resorts. The tour marks the first time the superstars have done so together, but their professional relationship dates back to 1996, when Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, dropped his first album, Reasonable Doubt. That album kicks off with "Can't Knock the Hustle," and Blige, who had already established herself as an up-and-coming R&B/hip-hop star with the albums What's the 411 and My Life, is featured countering Jay-Z's nimble rhymes by singing the track's prophetic chorus, "Baby, one day you'll be a star." Every show on the Heart of the City tour opens with Jay-Z and Blige performing an updated version of "Can't Knock the Hustle." In an upscale setting that should be well suited for Boardwalk Hall, the dynamic duo performs the song on a chandelier-adorned stage, backed by a large, formally outfitted band that more closely resembles an orchestra. The moment...
Circus of the Stars What do Moulin Rouge poodles, double trapeze acts, and a special appearance by Spiderman in a steel cage have in common? They can all be found under the big top of the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars. The circus is back in town and will be filled with many performers to keep you entertained, such as Snickers the educated pony and Zarina the human cannonball. If sitting under the big top seems too overwhelming for your little ones (or perhaps yourself) stop by the morning of opening day (Aug. 16) between 7 and 10am to see the tent raising. The show runs Aug. 16-18 at 4:30 and 7:30pm at the Atlantic City Race Course. Tickets are $15/$10. For more information call 1-888-332-5200. -- Lauren Muskett Colors of the Wind Earlier this summer, Somers Point's Great Bay Gallery hosted an exhibit featuring the cosmic impressionism of local artist Dan Fogel. For the quaint gallery's second act, the watercolor works of local painter Phyllis London will be on exhibit through Sept. 2. London, who paints cheerfully vivid, nature-oriented scenes, calls the exhibit "The Summer Wind." Says the artist and EHT resident, "I grew up on a diet of...
JUST THE SOUND OF HER VOICE is enough to get you in the mood. Any kind of mood. It doesn't matter if she's singing about break-ups, make-ups, tough times, good times, heartaches or premenstrual syndrome, Mary J. Blige can relay emotions effortlessly through song. She's a natural; a gifted performer who has done it again and again, album after soulful album for 12 years with a voice that's as raw as it is smooth, rough as it is sweet. With dozens of hits under her belt including songs like "Real Love," "No More Drama," "I'm Going Down," and "What's the 411?" Mary J. is on tour and living up to her Queen of Hip Hop Soul moniker. She makes a stop in Atlantic City this weekend for one night at the Taj. The '411' on Mary At 33, the Yonkers, NY native is at the top of her game. After a string of chart-topping r&b albums including her now classic debut What's The 411 (1992), My Life (1994), Share My World (1997), Mary (1999) and No More Drama (2001), Blige returned in 2003 with another No. 1 record, love & life. The album reunites Blige with longtime friend and mentor...
By actual count, 18 musicians and singers have transited through the lineup of Yes, the pioneering progressive and symphonic rock band that began stirring up the musical pot when Chris Squire and Jon Anderson formed the group in 1968.
Liam Neeson ‘Non-Stop’
Hard Rock Rising 2014
Casino Club & Lounge Entertainment
‘A New Beginning’ Inaugural Ball